How much compensation am I owed for a bad mattress?

If you’re in the business of providing overnight accommodation, your first priority is to ensure that your guests receive a good night’s sleep. But as a former bed and breakfast owner, I know first-hand what a complex task this can sometimes be.

Some guests need a firm mattress; others want a softer one. Some like a feather pillow, others foam. Some need absolute darkness to sleep. Others want absolute silence — like the guest who informed us at check-in that she was a very light sleeper and requested that we ask all of our other guests to remove their shoes before walking down the hall outside her room. A request we just couldn’t honor, and she checked out the next morning after an early-rising guest did indeed walk down the hall wearing shoes.

Which brings us to Merrill Goldstein’s case. Last fall, Goldstein spent over $16,000 on a vacation with Liberty Travel. Close to $1,000 of that total was for a four-night stay at the Park Hotel Amsterdam. And that, Goldstein explains, is when a problem arose.

When we checked into our room there were two separate beds and when we lay down, we noticed that the mattresses were a very thin, one-layer mattress, just like those in a child’s crib. There was absolutely no support. My wife has a very bad back and the poor mattress agitated her back pain.

I immediately contacted the assistant manager of the hotel and explained the situation. She stated that the all the rooms had been redone with the same type of mattresses and said that they would put the two beds together and insert a board under the mattress the next day.

The Goldsteins weren’t happy with the board solution, so they called their travel agency. Still no luck.

After the travel agent contacted the hotel, she called me back and said that we could check out and go to a different hotel; however there was no guarantee that we would get our money back from the Park Hotel.

Goldstein didn’t want to risk having to pay double for his hotel stay, so they remained at the hotel and pursued their complaint again with their travel agency once they were home. They were offered a $500 credit toward a future booking with Liberty Travel.

He doesn’t think that’s enough compensation. Do you?

Should he have told his travel agent that his wife had back problems and needed a particular type of mattress while he was planning his trip?

The Park Hotel gets a 4 out of 5 rating on TripAdvisor, which is quite good, but I did note that overly soft beds were among the comments in the handful of negative reviews. Should the hotel have done more to accommodate the Goldsteins? What could they have done? Since these were apparently new mattresses, we assume the hotel felt they were what most of their customers wanted.

We suggested that Goldstein post his story in our forums so that our advocates and the industry professionals who monitor them could weigh in with their thoughts.

How about your thoughts?

Did the Goldsteins deserve more compensation?

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